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03-30-2012, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Kjell Dahlin View Post
I was happily surprised by Moneyball ; ; anyone interested by the managerial aspect of pro sports (or in general) and the use of microstats, should watch it.
I haven't seen the movie, but the book is a very good read. I actually got less out of the Billy Beane/Oakland A's parts of the book than the bits on Bill James. This quote from one of Bill James' abstracts still stands out for me:

So if we can't tell who the good fielders are accurately from the record books, and we can't tell accurately from watching, how can we tell? By counting things
Those are the two most powerful lines in the book for me.

btw, basketball has pretty much taken over for baseball in statistical analysis. At the recent MIT conference on sports analytics most papers were on basketball and there's tons of other good papers published every month. So, when you work at it, it's quite evident you can do statistical analysis in flowing sports team. That said, hockey is different but I'm finding it "easier" to analyse even than basketball.
I don't follow basketball but I understand the analysis is fairly in depth (and the MIT conference was created, at least in part, by the Houston Rockets GM). MathMan mentioned Gabe Desjardins earlier and some of the early hockey analysis he did was informed by the basketball stuff a few years ago. Desjardin's also done consulting work on football arbitration and with hockey clubs and he's venturing deeper into soccer analysis. Basketball's advantage over hockey is that you have pretty distinct possessions.

The advantage baseball has over the other sports (especially soccer) is that most of the analytical developments happened outside the front offices so it's not proprietary and available to everyone.

Hockey Analytics are no replacement for scouting (as the Toronto Blue Jays discovered under Riccardi... though there were other decisions made by him that hamstrung the team) but at least I think they're an important complimentary tool. At the least you can get context for what you're seeing on the ice and on the basic stat sheet such as quality of opposition or where a player starts their shifts.

If a team was to say, hire a bunch of University students to watch games and count "things" (I'd go with scoring chances in every NHL game) you could have a pretty good advantage for evaluating players outside your organization and only you would have the data.

We don't really know what teams track but San Jose's assistant GM Joe Will uses some proprietary software of some sort, at the Sloan Conference Peter Chiarelli mentioned at the Sloan Conference that the Bruins use some form of analytics, and I've heard 3rd-hand the Islanders consulted with some stat-minded types when they signed Matt Moulson out of the AHL (well, the Kings organization) and when they took a look at the top prospects in the 2009 draft.

There's no salary cap on front office operations. For less than what Georges Laraque cost the Habs they could probably put together an elite stats department to compliment the rest of the organization. As with scouting they'd get things wrong, but having another perspective within the organization probably wouldn't be a bad thing

Last edited by Roke: 03-30-2012 at 02:41 PM.
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